“I’ll take Sarasota-Manatee Originals for $92.50, Alex. . . and while I’m at it, I’ll take 80 winemakers as well.”
Answer: “What is Forks & Corks?”
Seriously, this 6th annual celebration leaves me reaching for adjectives deserving of a day of gastronomic brilliance, as well as a place to lie down for a nap afterwards.
On one of Sarasota’s standard, taken-for-granted, picture perfect days, Jill and I headed to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art for Forks and Corks Grand Tasting, where we explored this exquisite, absolute orgy of food and wine, heretofore un-attended by your SarasotaFoodies. Never going to make that mistake again!
Not only is the setting eye dropping, but so was the weather. We’re talking January, my friends. the last weekend in January and it is 78 degrees of humid free sunshine and clear, brilliant blue skies. So very Sarasota! We paused only a moment to feel bad for anyone up north currently shoveling their sidewalk, then joined up with all the other attendees in shorts and flip flops. Any one want to buy a house here?
As any casual readers of our musings know, we are unabashed, raving fans of the incredibly vibrant culinary scene here in our little corner of paradise, where an event like Forks & Corks attracts virtually every local award-winning chef, many with Michelin and Zagat ratings, and a few James Beard Foundation winners as well. How lucky for us, fellow foodies, to see them line up, one after another just blowing your taste buds away with unbelievable food! It was like Iron Chef on steroids! And evey attendee, dear friend, is one of 2,000 on the panel of judges. Priceless!
Now just multiply those great locally owned restaurants by 50! Seriously, that’s about how many awesome restaurants belong to the Sarasota-Manatee Originals represented at this event. And we’re not talking cheap eats here. We enjoyed a great mushroom risotto that was to die for, followed by a succulent toasted lobster roll, several sirloin beef presentations beyond description, crab and shrimp bisque, oysters on the half shell, ceviche, pork dishes, Indian food, French food, pasta, croquettes and then . . .we needed to leave room for the wine.
Over 80 winemakers from around the globe were happily sampling their delicious libations, and we’re talking AHH-SOME! Vineyards from France, Italy, Argentina, Za Africa (Dutch Zuid-Afrika – learned THAT today!), Spain, New Zealand, Chile, Portugal and Australia. And of course, our own American wineries were well represented, hailing from California’s Sonoma, Napa Valley, Santa Ynez, Russian River Valley and every state where great, highly-ranked wine is grown, including Washington and Oregon. Name a grape varietal, and it was there in spades! Neither my plate or glass were empty for more than a minute during the entire event.
There was absolutely nothing that we sampled that wasn’t worthy of an eye-rolling-how-can-anyone-top-that moment. For those of us who wanted to take a bit of this heavenly experience home with us, there was a charity auction benefiting the American Red Cross, and a retail area outside the Ringling Museum, as you exited. Numerous guests stood waiting at the valet with cases of wine being stored ever so safely in their cars to be enjoyed at home.
It would be impossible to go into detail on just how incredible this event is, so suffice it to say, if you can swing it, this is a one of a kind, can’t miss it event.
But please know, this thing sold out within 4 hours of the tickets going on sale! Four hours! Future Sarasotafoodies, take note!